Longmont -- Surprise! The Longmont High School Trojans have guards who can shoot, too.
At least that's what the Moffat County girls team found out Tuesday night in a 63-50 loss in its first regional game.
The Bulldogs went into the contest wary of the two 6'3" guards Annie Gorenstein and Marilyn Mouton. The Bulldogs found out quickly that there was more to the team than two D-1 post players. In the first two minutes, the Trojans tandem of twins Brianne and Brittany Fowler combined for three three-pointers as the home team jumped out to a 14-3 lead.
"They really surprised us at first," said Kate Schafer. "We didn't know they could shoot as well as they started out."
Coach Craig Mortensen called a time out two minutes into the first quarter to assess the situation.
"I told them they needed to slow down and that we needed to change our game plan a little," he said. "We had to adjust and not collapse on their posts as much as we originally planned and we had to guard their threes more."
Longmont's coach Darlere Dion said their secret weapon all year had been their guard play.
"All that everybody talks about is our height," she said. "But we've got guards who can play and usually start off well in the first quarter because they aren't ready for our guards to be good."
After the time out, the Bulldogs were outscored 11-8 the rest of the quarter. With 10 points from sophomore Brandie Telfer, the Bulldogs were able to keep the Trojans within striking distance. Yet a 25-11 lead for the Trojans after the first eight minutes was still a hole for the visitors.
"When we came out in the warm-up, we looked like their little sisters," said Laurel Mortensen. "I just looked at their size and laughed and thought, 'We're going to need to have a great game.'''
That "great game" started to come from the Bulldogs in the second quarter. Behind the shooting of senior Amanda Tomlinson, who had three three-pointers and 11 points in the quarter, the Bulldogs outscored the Trojans, 15-6.
"I was feeling it today in the shoot around and it carried over into the game," said the senior who finished her last game with a career high 13 points. "I was frustrated with my shooting at the district tournament but it seemed like there was less pressure today and I relaxed and hit them."
With a last second three by Schafer, the Bulldogs fought back within five in the second quarter and went into halftime down, 31-26.
"They came in overconfident and thought that a win was automatic," said Laurel Mortensen. "We came in knowing we were going to need to play really hard to win and that second quarter woke them up and gave us confidence."
The confidence gained in the second quarter was the only thing that dropped for the Bulldogs in the third quarter as they missed their first seven shots and didn't score until 3:08 remained. The Trojans' five-point lead at halftime was increased to 16, 43-28, and the quarter ended with the ninth-seeded team up 47-31 over the 24 seed.
Moffat County played catch up in the fourth quarter and came within eight points -- 54-46 -- with 2:10 remaining. But the Trojans made 10 of 13 free throws in the final quarter to hold off the Bulldogs.
"I've seen coach Mortensen coach before and I knew that his squad was going to play better than their seed," said Dion, who grew up playing at Roaring Fork High School on the Western Slope. "They deserved a much higher seed and we had to play a very good game to advance."
The first quarter proved to be the deciding quarter as the Bulldogs outscored the Trojans 39-38 the rest of the game.
"If they don't hit those threes early, it's a different game," coach Mortensen said. "The game really could have gotten out of hand, but our girls fought back and hit their shots."
Telfer and Tomlinson led the Bulldogs with 13 apiece. Laurel Mortensen, who was covered by a box-and-one defense all night, scored 11.
The Trojans were led by Brittany Fowler's 15 points while Moulton added 13 and Brianne Fowler and Gorenstein added 12.